P.C.2.1 Use improvisation and acting skills, such as observation, concentration, and characterization, to create extended scenes.
by Karen Loftus
Students will explore the question “what is theatre?” and analyze it by comparing film and television productions. Each session comes with an journal prompt, a warm up game, and an exit slip for assessment. This is a great unit to start off a school year.
Feel free to customize it as much as you want, and refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials. While you’re analyzing “what is theatre?” with your students, you can introduce classroom procedures and do icebreaker/trust games. You can also remind the kids that Theatre is Ensemble - all of the games they play help to build ensemble.
by Karen Loftus
This unit on Ancient Greek Theatre focuses on the function of the chorus, the choral ode, and the details of the theatre space. It touches on plays and playwrights of the era, culminating in a final project of a modern version of Medea that includes a choral ode.
A rubric is included for the project as long as journal prompts and exit slips. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.
by Karen Loftus
Students sharpen their listening and reaction skills through improv games, exercises, and scenes. They will learn 5 specific guidelines to apply to their improvisation: accept the offer, bring information to the scene, make active choices, make your partner look good, and don’t force the humour.
There are so many different ways to approach a unit on improvisation. Keep in mind that you will have students who are really excited about this unit and some students who dread it. It’s best to start with low risk games and exercises and then build up to higher risk ones. Low risk games in this situation mean partnered interactions that aren’t shared with the whole class. Teachers can also refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.
The unit culminates in a short improv performance. A rubric is included for the performance as long as journal prompts and exit slips.
by Karen Loftus
Students are introduced to, analyze, and explore the history, characters, and style of Commedia dell’arte. Commedia Dell’Arte is a theatre history unit mixed with improvisation, physicalization, and exploring specific characters.
In this unit, we’re going to focus on three main aspects:
(1) Causes and Effects of Commedia (History), (2) Stock Characters, (3) Commedia Performance Practices.
The unit culminates in a commedia performance. A rubric is included for the project as long as journal prompts and exit slips. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.
by Karen Loftus
The final project will incorporate multiple areas that students have studied over the course of the year/semester: playwriting, acting, scenic design, and marketing. They’ll take what they’ve learned and create a 5-minute play with a monologue that they’ll perform. They’ll also describe the overall design of the show and create a ground plan and rendering for their design.
Finally, they’ll market their show by creating a poster and a press release. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.
by Jenny Goodfellow
This unit on Puppetry is designed for middle school and up, to introduce students to the material and get them comfortable with performing in a safe and low exposure environment.
This is a unit that builds to a culminating experience for your students. Each lesson is designed to explore techniques, provide opportunities for creative collaboration among your students, and give them opportunities to perform. Some of the lessons require materials to build or create puppets. Puppetry can be as easy as drawing a face on your finger for finger puppets, to actually purchasing your own finger puppets for students to use.
While the focus of this unit is puppetry, your students will explore other skills as well. There’s the obvious ones of creative thinking, teamwork, and problem solving. They are also going to explore storytelling, performing skills, and playwriting.
by Lea Marshall
WARNING: This unit is ABSURD. However, instructor Lea Marshall decided to do something really ABSURD with the unit, which was make it a bit more predictable. First, the unit takes two lessons to go over the Historical and Philosophical background of Theatre of the Absurd. It starts with just a visual exercise to really bring students into the emotional bleakness of the landscape and then group work to look at some of the other foundational elements that will drive the Absurdist movement into the Theatres.
Next, students break down absurd scripts into some “recognizable” elements of language, plot structure, acting choices, and storyline. With each lesson that introduces an Absurdist Element, there is an opportunity for students to “play” with the element. Then, students explore the element through an Absurdist text. This will help familiarize the students with the 4 Absurdist scripts used in the unit. These bite sized forays into the scripts will help students to choose a script to fully immerse themselves in for the final project.
As a final project, students will choose one script to work with, and choose the format of their project (performance, costume or set design, or playwright).
by John Minigan
The objective of this unit by John Minigan is to move students from a traditional presentational model of performance to a three-dimensional model. You’re going to achieve this by having students
- Develop tactics to achieve character goals, despite obstacles
- Connect physical choices to scene structure and relationships
- Clarify tactics and story rather than forcing emotion
- And focus on the scene partner rather than the self
This unit was created to use with grade nine students as a transition from middle school to high school acting approaches. It would also be appropriate for a beginning-of-the-year unit for a program that includes Drama 1. But any class that is at the beginning of their acting process will find value.
Each lesson comes with an engagement Rubric to assess how students participated in the activities and discussions.
by Lindsay Johnson
Students will understand the basic building blocks of a scene: The Who (characters/ relationship), the Where (setting), and the What (conflict – objectives/tactics). They will learn how to use both verbal and nonverbal (pantomime) clues to communicate these scene details to an audience. They will continue to work on voice clarity, while also learning to open their body to an audience. The unit culminates in a performance assessment in which students work in pairs to improvise a scene.
by Lindsay Johnson
Students will be introduced to the most basic of scripts: the contentless/open scene script. They will use their knowledge of character/relationships, setting, objective, and tactics to add content to a contentless scene. Students will also learn the basics of set design and blocking, and will begin
using voice expression to communicate clearer characters. The unit culminates in a performance assessment in which students will work in pairs to add content to and perform a contentless scene.
by Laramie Dean
Instructor Laramie Dean uses this unit as the final project for his Drama 2 students. Drawing upon any of the skills students have developed throughout they create a product that could be used within a new piece of musical theatre.
Students start by analyzing three musicals, study guides included, and practice creating musical elements. They are then giving class time to prepare in groups as many elements as their can for a new musical using devised theatre techniques.
There are 24 lessons in this unit which culminates in a final assessed performance.
by Annie Dragoo
Want a fun project that has your students collaborating and creating? In this unit by Annie Dragoo, students in groups will write and perform an original musical by adding modern songs to a traditional fairy tale story.
The six lessons take students from writing their script, to choreography and planned movement, to rehearsing, performing and evaluation.
The Rubric will focus on student performance. That means vocal delivery, emotional delivery, blocking/choreography, energy, focus, and characters.
by Lindsay Johnson
Students will have a chance to merge their understanding of scene elements with their improvisation skills in this final unit based on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. Theatre of the Oppressed is a style of theatre specifically created to highlight the injustices of power and oppression in society and to problem-solve ways to bring about change.
Starting with image theatre techniques to identify issues of power and oppression, students will then use forum theatre to create scenarios of oppression taken from their own lives and improvise realistic solutions.
The unit culminates in a performance in which students participate as both actors in a scene they create themselves and spect-actors in scenes created by their peers.
by Annie Dragoo
Musical theatre performers use their bodies to sing, to dance, and to act. We must think of our bodies as instruments and learn to use our instruments properly in order to be better musical theatre performers.
The overall objective with this unit, by Annie Dragoo, is for students to demonstrate an understanding of the use of good movement as it connects to musical theatre. Some of the activities include using action verbs, moving as animals and inanimate characters, nonverbal communication and situational movement. Students will then perform a scene that will allow them to put to practice all the movement techniques they have learned.
by Lindsay Price
This is a read, discuss, and apply literature unit. Students will study the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder.
Our Town is often referred to as “nostalgic.” It’s seen as an antiquated look at a moment in time. But this play is called Our Town, not My Town. What’s happening in Grover’s Corners happened in the past, the distant past, in our present, and even in the future. The themes of the play—the ordinary versus universality, the concept of time, the cycle of life, the ignorance of humanity to the eternal—these are just as relevant in the twenty-first century as they were when the play was written.
The purpose of the unit is not to have students recall knowledge about the play. Students will be able to identify, articulate, and dramatize text themes and concepts and compare/contrast these concepts to their own experiences.
by Lindsay Price and Karen Loftus
Students sharpen their listening and reaction skills through improv games, exercises, and scenes. They will learn five specific guidelines to apply to their improvisation: accept the offer, bring information to the scene, make active choices, make your partner look good, and don’t force the humor.
by Lea Marshall
We included this unit in our Distance Learning Curriculum because if any group of students would understand how the world turned upside down and then apply it to theatre, it would be the students dealing with a global pandemic.
First, we take two lessons to go over the historical and philosophical background of Theatre of the Absurd. We start with a visual exercise to bring students into the emotional bleakness of the landscape and then group work to look at some of the other foundational elements that will drive the absurdist movement into the theatres. Next, we break down absurd scripts into some “recognizable” elements of language, plot structure, acting choices, and storyline. In each lesson that introduces an absurdist element, there is an opportunity for students to “play” with the element.
by Jennine Profeta
Taking risks, learning to see failure as a gift, finding courage when we don't feel it, and having the awareness that what we say has an impact are social and emotional skills students will take beyond the classroom. These are skills that can be built through improv exercises.
The exercises in this unit are designed to create a safe environment in which students can go beyond their old patterns to take risks, embrace failure, and be more confident and aware of the effects of their word choices. Improv gives you the opportunity to draw attention to these important concepts and to talk about them.
by Lindsay Price
Perspective taking is the ability to understand a situation from another person’s perspective or point of view: What are they thinking? What are they feeling? How does their background influence their perspective? Perspective taking allows students to develop self-awareness, to recognize differences, to understand an opposing point of view, to assess nonverbal language, and more.
In this unit, students will practice perspective taking as they:
• Assess their own perspective.
• Demonstrate understanding of the perspective of others in specific situations.
• Analyze characters in a text.
by Annie Dragoo
In this unit, students will create and perform an abstract theatre scene. Abstract is a genre that does not rely on realism and deliberately breaks the rules of a given form. In the case of theatre, this refers to the commonly presented rules of performance, acting, and the relationship with the audience. Movement is often stylized and symbolic. Ideas and themes are expressed visually and aurally with little dialogue using music, lights, costumes, and props.
by Allison Williams
Allison Williams leads the course: 21st Century Skills Through Devising. This course covers what devising is, why to do it, how to do it, and how your students can master the 21st Century Skills of collaborations and cooperation, critical thinking, creative thinking through devising.
High school is a great place to try devising with your students. But it’s not something you want to throw at your students without any preparation. Framework is important and this course takes you through a number of exercises you can take into the classroom tomorrow to help build a place of physical safety, a place where students work at making a lot of choices instead of waiting for the perfect choice, and a place where students feel comfortable making creative choices. The material also reviews the process of putting together a show from the idea/research stage to editing, to giving feedback.
Your students have what it takes to create their own material, collaborate with each other, and have a unique theatrical experience!
by Colin Oliver
Colin Oliver leads this introduction to teaching Musical Theatre in the Drama Classroom.
In this course, you will learn how to build musical theatre into your dramatic courses of study. “Why might you want to do that? Singing is scary! You want me to teach my students how to do it? I don’t even know how to do it.” This course approaches musical theatre preparation performance much as we would approach preparing a monologue in drama. If you use script analysis in monologue preparation in your class, you can teach musical theatre.
By the end of this course, you’ll have a great, full-body physical warm-up, a student-driven research assignment, character development exercises, a little bit of musical theory, and a performance assignment complete with assessment.
So, join us for teaching Musical Theatre in the Drama Classroom. It’s as easy as Do-Re-Mi!
by Steven Stack
Have you ever wondered how in the world you can have a successful theatre classroom with so many variables that you have absolutely no control over? The two biggest ones being the size of your class and the students that you’re in charge of turning into some truly talented theatre geeks. This course by Steven Stack explores that wonderful and often ridiculous world of theatre classrooms while giving you the tools for you and your students to not only succeed but to flourish as well.
Lessons will include how to make any size class the Goldilocks class as in "just right", defining and working with all types of students you may encounter in your classroom, the seven must-haves of any theatre class, and the importance of structure in the theatre classroom by providing a guideline for setting up your day-to-day class time.
The course also provides tons of ideas, games and activities that you can use instantly in your classroom. So, if you’re a first-time theatre teacher or one just looking for new ideas, this is the course for you.
by Gai Jones
Gai Jones leads this course in establishing an environment of creative experimentation in the theatre classroom, in order to have a group of student actors who value the creative process.
Each lesson shares experiences to foster creativity without the stress of performance by student actors. For the creative process which honors out-of-the-box thinking, there is no assessment section included. There is no product or performance. The important thing is the student actor’s engagement. Their reflections and your observations are valued for positive learning.
This set of lessons includes Tips for the Theatre Educator, based on Gai's own Theatre practice. Scripts are also provided and contain text of what you can say to your students to facilitate their creative processes.
by Steven Stack
Why should you take a class on empathy? And why is theatre the perfect vehicle for empathy?
Empathy, the more sought-after and inclusive cousin of sympathy, is the experiencing of someone else’s experience in the world. What it would be like if you were wearing their clothes, their life?
Teaching students to understand the clothes that they’re putting on, the characters and their lives teaches students not how to act but how to be. It allows the students to feel what someone else feels and experiences, which can and should translate to their fellow actors and peers away from the stage. It will lead to a stronger class connection, stronger performances and stronger students who will seek out understanding instead of isolation and fear.
by Julie Hartley
Shakespeare is one of the greatest resources a drama teacher can have: scenes packed with action; opportunities to explore comedy and physical theatre; rich themes and characters to act as springboards for devised theatre; the chance to work with our language at its finest and – most importantly – ideas that relate directly to the experiences and preoccupations of students.
Yet Shakespeare isn’t easy. The language can seem dense, and finding a way in can be tough – especially for drama teachers who have not themselves studied Shakespeare. That’s the goal of this course – to help teachers find a way in.
This course presents teachers with as many ways in to the exploration of Shakespeare as possible. Action scenes, themes, characters, different theatre styles, and devised theatre projects. Students will be armed with the tools they need to begin individually exploring monologues, or working together on scenes.
by Erin Carr
Viewpoints is used to create dynamic moments of theatre by simply existing on the stage. However, Viewpoints is more than just an acting technique to understand your own physicality and more than a directing technique to create “ah-ha!” moments on stage. It is first and foremost the philosophy that to create an organic performance, you must see obstacle as opportunity, and that by simply standing in space, your creativity can spark.
This course by Erin Carr will help your students discover fresh impulses that motivate their performance in the moment. We will go through the Viewpoints technique, as created by Mary Overlie, and learn how to tap into kinesthetic awareness as individuals and as an ensemble. Through this style of play, students learn to release their thoughts on what they “should” do, and instead just respond organically to their surroundings and ensemble!
We’re going to break down each of the Viewpoints, there’s lots of visual demonstration, so you can see each Viewpoint in action, and I’m going to provide tips and side coaching examples.
by Claire Broome
Moral dilemmas are not only faced by characters in gripping plays, but are also faced by our students. The project outlined in this course will help students develop their critical thinking skills through the use of one of the dilemma questions to shape a student written production.
If you had the choice to press a button and earn $25,000,000... but a species (not of your choosing) would become extinct, what would you do? More importantly, what would your character do?
Join drama teacher and playwright Claire Broome through this course which includes role-playing, Stanislavski’s Magic If, character creation, playwriting and staging.
by Steven Stack
Brought to you by instructor Steven Stack, creator of The Empathetic Classroom, this course looks at ways to move on from the worldwide pandemic, while honoring the past and learning from it. In the past year, students had many things taken from them: school, hanging out with friends, freedom, hope, and innocence.
With this course, each session will highlight one specific topic relating to moving on. There will also be activities for each session that will help your students own the past, embrace their own and others’ narratives and scars, create a stronger classroom community, find ways to be where their feet are planted, and learn to play again.
We are an approved continuing education provider in the following states, and provide PD certificates to be used in districts around the world. Click here for more details.